This is the first of several posts exploring the accusations of plagiarism leveled against Ms. Eddy, as well as what may have influenced the writing of Science & Health. This, and future posts dealing with this topic will be tagged MBEPlagerism.
You don’t have to look very far into Ms. Eddy’s work to find accusations of plagiarism. Every Christian Scientist who has read anything about Ms. Eddy has probably seen the accusations that she borrowed liberally from a number of resources, often without giving credit. Many find this ironic, as Ms. Eddy has some rather strong words for those who borrow her work without proper credit:
- The various forms of book-borrowing without credit spring from this ill-concealed question in mortal mind, Who shall be greatest? This error violates the law given by Moses, it tramples upon Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, it does violence to the ethics of Christian Science. From Plagiarism (1)
So who did she borrow her material from? The notions of Christian Healing and Mental Healing were hardly new in the 1800s when she sat down to write Science & Health. The idea that people have some influence over their physical condition is not new, Hippocrates (460 BC – 377 BC) is famously attributed with saying:
- Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.
In the Bible, healings happen in both the Old and New Testaments. Jesus went about healing people. Jesus’ disciples and the Apostle Paul healed people as well, although they were often less successful than Jesus. The Catholic Church documents miraculous healings (Intercession of the Saints), and Martin Luther also touched on the topic of healing as well. (2)
In the non-religious world there were physicists, philosophers, doctors, and miracle workers studying and pondering the relationships between mind and body. Plato, Descartes, Kant, Gassner, Mesmer and Quimby, all sought some higher understanding of the mind/body connection. (3)
Analyzing all the plagiarism charges leveled against Ms. Eddy would rapidly become a study in esoteric minutia so I will attempt to provide a sweeping overview and resources for the interested read further.
There is an entire book alleging that Ms. Eddy took her ideas from Hegel. Mrs. Eddy Purloins from Hegel was written by Walter M. Haushalter and copyrighted in 1936. I have not read the entire book, merely skimmed the first few pages. Haushalter makes reference to Ms. Eddy’s “literary dualism” – something many have remarked on over the years, and anyone who reads the 1875 version of S&H will also wonder how Ms. Eddy turned out the 1910 revision. Ms. Eddy Purloins contains some true gems, on p. 4, Haushalter remarks
- Often, after stumbling though a foggy swamp of subjectivism, one merges upon a page or half-page of terse, clear, brilliant metaphysics worth of a Kant or a Royce. It is this dualism of crude mythology and valid science, of wild chaos and stately order, of non-sense and sense, that exasperates.
So who was Hegel? Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) was a German philosopher, he had much to say on a variety of topics. I do not particularly care to delve into the esoterica of late 18th- early 19th century German philosophers, so I will focus on Haushalter’s book.
Haushalter’s thesis is that Ms. Eddy copied her work from the Leiber Documents, a collection of works by Dr. Francis Lieber, a distinguished German-American publisher and authority on the philosophy of Hegel (4). According to Haushalter, one example of this plagiarism is none other than the Scientific Statement of Being, found in the 1910 version of S&H on p. 468. The following is from Ms. Eddy Purloins on p. 28:
Additional examples of this can be found her: http://www.judethree.org/ChristianScience/CScience1.html and as a a pdf: Eddy/Lieber Documents. I have not seen the actual Lieber Documents, but the evidence put forth is rather convincing.
Further reading on Hegel
I have found several articles stating that from the 24th edition Science and Health through the 33rd edition, Eddy admitted the harmony between Vedanta philosophy and Christian Science. She also quoted passages from an English translation of the Bhagavad Gita (5) Rather conveniently these editions are not readily available online, and MBE biographer Gillian Gill claims the Hindu references were introduced by Ms. Eddy’s editor, Reverend James Henry Wiggin (more on him later p. 332-333).
Sadly, while we do have very old copies of S&H in a box under the stairs, none of them date back to before the 1910 edition.
There is nothing solid, and everything I have found on the topic has been written well after 1910. The earliest claim of S&H’s Hindu influence comes from an article in Clarity Magazine which is excerpted from East West magazine, 1926:
- Christian Science is a new presentation of truths the Hindus first preached long ago. By emphasizing the power of mind over body, and the dreamlike nature of this phenomenal world, Christian Science has awakened many matter-bound people to the power of the mind. (6)
And from wikipedia, historian Damodar Singhal:
- The Christian Science movement in America was possibly influenced by India. The founder of this movement, Mary Baker Eddy, in common with the Vedantins, believed that matter and suffering were unreal, and that a full realization of this fact was essential for relief from ills and pains… The Christian Science doctrine has naturally been given a Christian framework, but the echoes of Vedanta in its literature are often striking. (5)
Further Reading on Hinduism
photo credits: Hegel- wikipedia, Hinduism – GoogleImageSearch
- http://www.voiceofhealing.info/02history/oldtestament.html, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intercession_of_saints, http://www.quodlibet.net/articles/dorman-luther.shtml
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind%E2%80%93body_problem, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06392b.htm, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_Mesmer
- http://books.google.com/books?id=WXAWX9JpTKsC&lpg=PP1&pg=PP3#v=onepage&q&f=false, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hegel, http://www.judethree.org/ChristianScience/CScience1.html